Why We SHOULD Make Rage Against The Machine Xmas No.1

So it seems our recent Rage Against The Machine Vs X Factor blog from online prophet/cultural commentator/douchebag (delete according to your level of angst) Luke Lewis has caused quite a stir.


While I don’t agree with many of the 420-odd comments I think it is time to get some of the NME behind the campaign and to take him to task on a few things.

His major gripes seem to be: the irony of singing “I won’t do what you tell me” while signing up to a Facebook campaign, the song choice, the question of whether we care about what’s #1 at Christmas, and the futility of the exercise.

Put simply, a Facebook campaign is a vote, a choice whether or not you sign up. There’s no judges or Dermot repeatedly hammering phone lines into your head, it’s just people using a democratic right bestowed on them by the social networking age to tell the judges and Dermot they won’t do that other thing they tell them.

‘Killing In The Name’ might be owned by Sony, thus most likely somehow benefiting Cowell financially, but these days what isn’t? A good 95% of the music industry is controlled by the shit that floated to the top (that’s a made-up statistic but probably not far off), which is why shopping at Pure Groove/buying merch at Fucked Up gigs/other statements of independent solidarity are so important. However, you won’t get nearly 500,000 people signing up to buy Slow Club’s version of ‘Silent Night’.

It needs to be a unifying anthem, one underpinned by massive guitars and easily co-opted lyrics. While you can’t deny the seriousness of the original words, what song hasn’t been bent into whatever shape the listener (whether individual or collective) wants it to be? Hell, I was working out to ‘Bombtrack’ only on Monday. “I learned to burn that bridge and delete those who compete at a level that’s obsolete.” Yeah, I’m talking to you on the cross-trainer. It’s a bomb track, right?

When were Christmas Number Ones ever any good? Um, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1975…

Christmas Number Ones courtesy of Wikipedia

Who cares who’s Christmas Number One? Well, while I’m all for ignoring the charts, pegging the majority of the British public as tasteless morons and resigning myself to a lifetime of enjoying the fragmented long-tail, with any kind of communal listening experience stretched across countries, time zones and time periods, this feels different.

It’s like torching the castle just before the invaders finally breach the gates. They can have the chart but let’s just send off one final parting shot before retreating into our Hype Machine bunkers and hunkering down for an uncertain 2010.

And after sooo long, so many weeks of mindless drivel, year after year, it’s hard not to get caught up in it. As the (admittedly questionably-named) commenter Raise The Fist pointed out: “The purpose behind it is to show that people still care about REAL music.”

The only concession I’ll make to the futility of this exercise is that, yes, probably less than a quarter of the Facebook army will actually buy the track. I’m promising I will, but then come Sunday I might just go Christmas shopping and have a nice lunch somewhere and forget. It’s still headed for high enough ground to bother Reggie Yates in ten days though.

And arguments aside, it’s just nice to see so many people stand up to The X Factor, in however an overly optimistic or misguided gesture, and to think that maybe, just maybe, something like this might somehow jab at Simon Cowell’s bulletproof conscience if he ever lies awake at night even vaguely worrying about the monster he created.

Simon Cowell's shiny face

Oh – and ‘Earth Song’ was a tune.

Could it actually happen??! We’re following both songs’ progress